A weekend away

We’ve had a busy weekend since I last wrote to you all. We spent Friday to Sunday with my husband’s family in London, and managed to fit in two trips to the city centre. On Friday we arrived by lunchtime and then headed into London on the train, which my boys always find exciting as it’s a rare occurrence for them. We had planned to have an hour on HMS Belfast, but after finding out we’d be shelling out a little over forty quid for the three of us adults, we decided that looking at it from the side of the Thames was quite sufficient! We did, however, get a good look at Tower Bridge, and as I’ve not lived in London since I was nine years old I get the touristy thrill every time I see it!

This is the kids and their cousin, and I think they were trying to gauge how deep the river was, although I wouldn’t swear to it!

Having seen and coveted the London Bridge Lego set, they were suitably thrilled to see the real thing. After this we got a Thames Clipper boat back to the London Eye pier, and set off to meet my brother in law near the Royal Festival Hall to find some dinner. Each time I go near the Festival Hall I’m reminded of a visit when I must have been in my early teens and we went into the hall for some lunch. I remember very distinctly listening to a string quartet whilst eating the best bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich I’ve ever had! The things that stay with you down the years!

On Saturday, it was decided that we should visit the Natural History Museum. Unfortunately, I think that most of the south east of England had had the same idea, as we were queueing for a good half an hour to get in. Inside it was very much as I remembered it from my trip whilst I was in primary school, including the blue whale model and the different sharks suspended above it. I passed on the offer to look at dinosaurs (they’ve never really excited me that much!) and left the boys to it whilst I enjoyed a sit down, a drink and a catch up on my Dad’s latest blog posts (one of the comments on the first in a recent series of posts of his nearly made me cry in public, but I’ll leave you to find that!). After about an hour the kids (and I include their fathers in that category) emerged from the dinosaur exhibit and we made our way to the investigation centre, which was easily the best bit of the museum that I had seen on that trip, and probably worth the visit on its own. After booking in for a half hour slot, the kids were allowed to touch any of the exhibits, put them under microscopes or zoomed-in camera lenses attached to a monitor to examine them, play on computers and even handle some replica skulls. Nothing was off-limits in this room, and they had lots of different things to look at such as fossils, bones, antlers, insects in plastic housings, what looked like a very small stuffed alligator (do they come in miniature?!) etc etc. There was more than enough to keep them occupied for well over double the alloted half hour, and we could have gone back in but all four kids were getting weary and so we decided to call it a day and head back.

After a nice dinner it was time to get the kids to bed. On Sunday morning GG taught Cheeky the main elements of chess (I think he’s started something there, as Cheeky seemed very keen to keep playing!) whilst Handsome spent more time playing with the younger of his two London cousins. He’s always been very good with smaller children, and has a lot of time and patience for playing their games and reading them stories. I think he probably inherited this from my mother in law, as we always found it hard to keep her attention if there was a child in the room with us, as they’d always have top priority! After lunch it was time for the journey home. I don’t like the M4 very much, and so I was glad to spend a good three quarters of an hour asleep – it was well worth the stiff neck! We all arrived home ready to have a chilled out evening catching up on Strictly Come Dancing and making sure everything was ready for school. We’re not used to travelling very much, but it’s nice to get away for the occasional weekend. I’m very glad though that now my parents and my sister in law live in Cardiff so most of our visiting involves no more than a fifteen minute drive!

On London, Hamlet and my blog silence for two weeks

I have been noticeably absent from my blog for nearly two weeks! For that I apologise and I will do my best to fill you in on what I’ve been up to.

Today is the first day on which I can relax with an easy conscience in quite a while, given that I took on a lot of Christmas crafting and baking to do which took up a lot of my time in the immediate pre-Christmas rush. I was incredibly glad that I had been ahead with buying Christmas presents and sending Christmas cards, as I hate to think how little sleep I would have had if I had left all of that to the last minute.

Anyway, we got all of our cards made, and most of the presents I planned, although there are still a couple of things left to finish. They were mainly additional presents though, so I’ve briefed the intended recipients that they will be available as New Year presents!

Of course, a week ago my mother and I went to London for two nights. Bridge over serpentine She has written a good account of our trip here, so I’ll leave you to read that rather than repeating everything that she has written. We had a lot of fun, with lots of giggles even if our hotel room was like an oven and we felt as if we were being slow-cooked overnight! (I’m only just getting back to my normal body temperature now!) Hamlet poster claudiusThe RSC production of Hamlet was superb, and David Tennant’s understudy was brilliant. He (Edward Bennett) was simply fantastic in the leading role, and although I will admit that I was imagining how David Tennant might have played it all the way through, I wasn’t disappointed in the performances of all the leading actors.

After the performance, Mum and I went to Trafalgar Square to see the Christmas tree. It was strange being in Trafalgar Square at nearly midnight and having the place nearly to ourselves, but all the more special for all that. st martin in the fieldsNext to Trafalgar Square is the church of St Martin in the Fields, which we were excited to see as some of my ancestors were married there. I spent quite a lot of time playing with the settings on my camera to try to get some good night time photos, but only really succeeded when I found some solid surfaces to lean the camera on.

All in all, we had a good couple of days, and it was quite a relief to be physically removed from the pre-Christmas preparations for that couple of days as I felt all the more able to plunge into the baking etc when I returned. Plus, I think GG now has a better understanding of what it is like, coping with two small children when they are incredibly excited, and the reason that I don’t seem to get very much done when the children are home from school!

Wellington house

Photos from my day trip to London

As promised, here are some of the photos from last weekend’s trip to London. I can’t post all of them, as my friends would kill me (I captured some unflattering poses!) but here are a few to start you off. Happy Tuesday!
My two friends and I in Covent Garden
My two friends and I in Covent Garden


Amazing looking cupcakes as seen through a shop window in Covent Garden

Amazing looking cupcakes as seen through a shop window in Covent Garden

 The view of the stage of Dirty Dancing from my seat - not bad for the cheapest seats in the house!

The view of the stage of Dirty Dancing from my seat - not bad for the cheapest seats in the house!

Happy London Saturday

(Written on Saturday morning, extremely early!)

I’m off to London for the day today. I’m on the train at the moment, having left Cardiff at stupid-o’clock this morning. I got up nice and early so I could get myself ready, as I don’t generally wear make-up unless I’m going somewhere nice. Well, today qualified as a make-up day, so I had to allow extra time for that! I obviously have forgotten how long it takes to do a full face of make-up, as by the time I had finished I had no time left to make breakfast. So, instead of the lovely sandwich and couple of pieces of fruit I had planned to take with me, I bought myself a packet of mini-Eccles cakes at Cardiff Central station. [For my overseas (non-UK) readers – do you have an Eccles cake equivalent? It is a cake made with flaky pastry which contains dried vine fruits, and is named after a town in Lancashire, England.]

I’m travelling with a group of friends who all have children in school with my boys. Once of them, A, celebrated her 40th birthday recently and so T, who organised the whole trip has brought Bucks Fizz, strawberries and chocolates and even disposable champagne flutes along for the train journey! And so the party is really getting started, before 8am! T is justifying it as a champagne breakfast; I can see that I (I don’t drink) am going to end up carrying half of them around Covent Garden on my back! (Only joking – they are all, of course, mature, responsible ladies 😉 )

I think the plan is to get into London by about 9.30, spend the morning shopping, so and see the show, have a long and relaxed dinner and then make our way back to London Paddington to catch the train home. After which I will write an update on our day. Happy Saturday!

So, my day went more or less as I had expected. We had a cooked breakfast when we arrived in town, which set us up for the day. We spent the morning and early afternoon walking around the Covent Garden boutiques and then the Jubilee market. We had the obligatory pub stop before heading off to the theatre to see … Dirty Dancing! Yay! It was fabulous! I’d not seen the film for several years and so it was lovely to be reminded of all the more subtle nuances!

The dancing was fantastic and the singing awesome. I really thought that there was a CD playing until I saw the lips of one of the girls moving and realised that it was her singing! ‘Baby’ looked just like the actress who played her in the film. The time flew by, and it wasn’t until we were on the train on the way home that I realised that it was three hours long.

More about my day and photos tomorrow – this post is getting a bit too long and it’s time for me to get ready for bed (I’m exhausted!) so I’m going to split it in two!